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Best Advice for Dogs with Skin Issues

I still need to publish a real post about Mr. Stix’s full backstory, but this feels more pressing. For nearly 18 months, Mr. Stix’s permanent nakey spot (from unknown injuries before he was rescued, including 15 fractures and this big patch of coat missing) has featured several inflamed, peeling areas. Initially I tried to fix it myself at home with things like aloe vera, vaseline, a veterinary ointment called animax that the shelter had give us while we fostered him most of 2019, etc. It’s sort of a combination of steroids, antibacterial, and antifungal stuff. I took him to see our main veterinarian in spring 2020, when there was a 2-month wait to get into see a board-certified veterinary dermatologist. It has been quite a journey since then, and it’s nowhere near over. Here’s my best advice for dogs with skin issues.

Before I tell the ongoing saga with Mr. Stix’s skin. Here is my best advice for dogs with skin problems.

See a board-certified veterinary dermatologist as soon as you can. Yes, your main veterinarian can probably help, but it’s honestly best to go right to the top experts.

Agree to whatever skin scrapings / cytology the veterinary dermatologist recommends. This provides information about what types of secondary infections currently grow on your dog’s damaged skin.

Do NOT assume every skin issue is allergies. It often is some sort of allergic process, but NOT always and assuming so (and acting accordingly may only delay real solutions and subject your dog to all kinds of quack advice and home remedies).

Buy the best quality fish oil and Vitamin E supplements you can afford, if it’s recommended for your particular case of a dog with skin issues.

When necessary, agree to the skin biopsies (yes, like minor surgery) and have them reviewed by a veterinary pathologist that specializes in dogs with skin issues. The one we used is at Texas A&M.

Follow your veterinary dermatologist’s advice and plans, and keep the faith. These dogs with skin problems often don’t improve quickly. (I need to take my own advise. See below.)

Mr. Stix’s Story as a Dog with Skin Problems

This is what Mr. Stix’s nakey spot looks like when it’s normal. Photo from May 2019 soon after his hip surgery. The bald patch is permanent. That’s not the issue.

This is how bad the red / peeling areas got in mid-2020 when we saw our main veterinarian, who added a low-dose of oral Vitamin E and some topical too and told me to keep using the animax.

This is how it looked when Mr. Stix first saw the board-certified veterinary dermatologist in early August 2020, but the specialist had me STOP the animax and instead use a prescription anti-bacterial ointment (mupirocin) … as well as add a better quality oral fish oil and continue both topical and oral Vitamin E (but at a higher dose twice a day). We knew from the skin scrapings / cytology they did onsite that Mr. Stix had a bacterial infection.

But, without the daily topical steroids (which long term are a bad idea), Mr. Stix’s skin got much, much worse — even breaking open and scabbing over.

Our veterinary dermatologist had recommended doing the skin biopsies right away in August 2020, and I *almost agreed to it then, but I was VERY worried about the cuts resulting in skin that would NOT heal. And, I figured it was at least worth a try to use the prescription antibiotic ointment and other supplements and stuff.

But, by around Thanksgiving, it was clear we had to do the biopsy. That photo is kind of gruesome, so you can see it here, if you want. I wish I had done the biopsy sooner. I feel like I wasted time from August through November.

Post-Biopsy Diagnosis

As I expected, despite all the know-it-alls trying to tell me it was an allergic issue, it turns out that Mr. Stix instead has an autoimmune condition called erythema multiforme. They believe it was triggered by the trauma of his earlier injuries. They don’t think it is life-threatening. They don’t think it will spread to other areas of his skin. Just the already damaged, permanent nakey spot.

With that information in hand, we updated the treatment plan to include a topical, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory ointment (tacrolimus — often pricey, but we used a Good RX coupon at Costco to get the cost down). They use a version of this medication orally for people who have had various kinds of transplants. It’s the smallest / safest option for treatment, and that’s where we started.

I was so hopeful it would work at the once-daily application, but the skin still didn’t heal completely.

So, in early 2021, we started applying it twice daily on the advice of our veterinary dermatologist.

But, it still hasn’t healed completely. It often improves a lot and then comes roaring back, so we had another appointment to see the specialist last week. We had to try something new.

Enter the Big Immune-Suppressing Drug

Despite my concerns and form of veterinary PTSD about major immune suppression drugs (after our experiences with Lilly), I agreed last week to add oral cyclosporine, which is also a drug that people get after various transplants. Mr. Stix would need to take it daily for life.

It smells like it’s made from skunk butts, so each gel-cap pill is individually packaged, and you keep them in the freezer because that can help with nausea it can cause (since it’s recommended you give on an empty stomach).

I found some good info on this med, and our veterinary dermatologist assured me that it has been safely used in veterinary medicine for like 20+ years, etc.

The med only comes in doses of 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg, and at his size Mr. Stix’s ideal dose is around 88 mg once a day. So we went with 75 mg (25+50) to err on the lower side.

It takes like 3-7 days for the med to build up in the blood to therapeutic levels, but it takes more like 4-6 weeks to know if it’s going to help the skin (or not).

We made it to day 4, then the barfing started.

Anxiety

I wish I could say that this is all going to be fine, but I just don’t know. I feel like I just have to accept that the skin will never fully heal, even though seeing his raw spots up close while applying the topical med twice a day and topical Vitamin E once a day causes me so much angst and anxiety.

I supposed to check in with our veterinary dermatology team next week to confirm that Mr. Stix’s weirdness and apparent suffering has improved.

It took a lot of convincing to get Mr. Champion of My Heart to agree to try the cyclosporine, so even if the specialist comes back and recommends maybe a lower dose, I doubt we’ll want to risk it … because Mr. Stix sure seemed to be having some neurologist issues to me, and after the Lilly situation, I just cannot do that again.

He is only 3 years old. I don’t want to make anything worse. It honestly felt like I’d poisoned him.

The good news is that most of the time his skin doesn’t seem to hurt or itch or anything — though I do have pain meds, if he needs them. It mostly just looks bad, and he has to wear a no-lick collar for about 20 minutes after I apply his meds so that he doesn’t lick it off.

His nakey spot is prone to sunburn anyway, and the topical tacrolimus increases the risk of burning, so I used his earlier sun-reflecting coat (which started to look ragged) as a pattern and sewed him a new / light sun protection coat. He looks very cute in it.

https://championofmyheart.com/2021/08/05/dogs-with-skin-issues/

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Solid Dog Tips And Advice Just For You

Do you want to know more about dogs? Since a lot goes into caring for a dog, their owner can sometimes feel overwhelmed. If you liked this information and you would certainly such as to get more facts pertaining to Dog Breeds That Start With R kindly see our page. Some owners are ready to give up on dog training. This article has helpful tips you can use for your dog.

Never hit your dog. There are better ways to train a dog without having to resort to violence. The best way to train a dog is to reinforce positive behaviors with treats and attention. Negative behavior should be handled with a stern and disapproving voice as opposed to striking the animal.

If your dog gets lost, it is very unlikely that you will see him again unless he has proper identification. Tags can come off, so the best option is a microchip. It is quick to put in your dog, and it causes minimal discomfort. Simply register the chip ID after it is put in, and your pet will always have his identification with him.

If you are interested in providing your dog with the healthiest of diets and making positive contributions to the earth’s environment, make his food from scratch. You can buy locally grown organic ingredients and provide him all the proteins, carbs and fats he needs with no preservatives while reducing the waste from packaging as well.

Don’t make you dog eat something they don’t want to eat. For instance, don’t force it to eat a treat that it appears to hate. The best judge of what your dog likes is the dog himself. Fancy name brands mean nothing.

Unless you’re okay with your dog playing with your shoes and other things around your home, buy him some toys. He will enjoy having things of his own, particularly if they are interactive like pull-toys you can use together. Also buy him things he can use to occupy himself and stay out of trouble!

Try to always be aware of how your dog is feeling. If your dog seems to be nervous, fearful, or scared of certain things, you should take note of this and try to avoid putting your dog in a stressful situation. When a dog is stressed or afraid, you could traumatize your dog if you insist that it stays in the stressful situation.

Designate a family member or close friend to be responsible for your dog, should something happen to you. If you are in an accident and unable to get home, your dog will need someone to feed him and address other needs. Perhaps you trust a neighbor with your house keys and they could act for you in a time of need.

Don’t forget about your dog when writing your will. Many pets end up being fought over or neglected completely because specific instructions were not left regarding their care. Include a clause that clearly directs your loved ones on what to do with your dog so that he’s well taken care of.

If you are a very enthusiastic owner of a pure-bred dog, join your local AKC. They are an active social group where you can share your love for your dog, learn a lot and make new friends too. The experience can also help prepare you and your dog for entering contests and winning shows!

If you breed your dog, do so responsibly. The AKC advises all owners of pure-bred dogs to make an effort to advance the breed and discard all other motivations, such as money or experimentation. Consider the repercussions of your actions before allowing your dog to mate and create a litter of puppies.

Always be the boss with your dog. A dog is not only much more apt to be obedient when you are in command, he’ll also be much happier. Dogs need to know what’s expected of them and that they are being led. This gives them a sense of security and you a more peaceful household.

The kind of leash you use when walking your dog is very important. A small leash that would fit a small dog, like a chihuahua, is not going to fit a Rottweiler or pit bull. Get a leash that will fit your dog comfortably but also provided them with safety.

If you pick up a dog from a shelter, make sure that he has been seen by a medical professional. You don’t want to bring home a sick dog unless you are aware of it, particularly if you have other dogs at home. Make sure to ask if the dog you have chosen has been around sick dogs in the past few weeks as well.

Every dog needs to have a good amount of exercise in order to stay healthy and fit. It is a good idea for you to take your dog out for a walk at least once a day if you do not have a yard he can use to run around freely.

When you bring a new dog home, the first thing you should do is make sure they’ll always be able to get back to you. Invest in a safe collar and a tag that contains both your name and phone number. Most lost dogs don’t make it home, but with a good tag, you can be sure yours will.

If you are looking into getting a dog you should ask as much about the dog that you can think of. For example, you will want to know about its mannerisms, level of activity and how affection it is. Ask whatever you can think of, so that you do not regret your decision later.

Never allow a puppy to climb up or down steps in order to prevent joint problems in the future. This is extremely important, especially with breeds that are at high risk for hip dysplasia. Any sort of high impact shock such as jumping or stair climbing should be avoided due to the fact that their growth plates are still developing.

Now are you really ready to care for your dog in the best way possible? As long as you endeavor to use what you have learned, you should be! Take your new knowledge and put it to use and you’ll see changes right before your eyes. Enjoy your dog and love them to bits!

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